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Do I Need to Use SPF in the Winter?

Do I need to use SPF in the winter? 

This is a question that I am frequently asked, and I could sum up this blog in 3 words; Yes, Yes and YES! But it’s just as important for you to understand why we need to use SPF all year round and not just when we’re on our holidays and basking in the sun, as it is for you to know that you need it.  SPF (Sun protection factor) is a cream or spray that helps to protect the skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The benefits to using SPF go way beyond simply protecting your skin from burning in the sun, and you may be interested to learn a little more about some of them. 

Before we move onto that, we’re going to take a look at what the difference is between UVA and UVB rays as well as their effects on the skin. We’ll also explore how SPF works, for how long it is effective, and then the benefits that come with regular use of a medical grade SPF.  Ultraviolet radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. In the electromagnetic spectrum, ultraviolet light has a shorter wavelength than light, so the eye cannot see it, but the skin can absorb it. Tanning beds also emit ultraviolet light. Both types of UV light have been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin ageing.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burns. 

Although UVA and UVB rays have different effects on the skin, the two are problematic. Lack of UVA and UVB protection damages DNA in the skin, creating genes or mutations that can lead to skin concerns (including premature ageing). So let’s look at the two in a little more detail; 

UVA RAYS:

  • UVA rays cause tanning and the short wavelengths of UVA rays also cause sunburn and have been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells in the skin. 
  • UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin to cause damage to  cells in the inner layer of the skin. The skin darkens, trying to prevent further damage, which gives it a tanned appearance. 
  • At the same time, UVA rays can also lead to premature ageing. 
  • UVA radiation is the primary light source used in most tanning beds, which are just as damaging to the skin in the very same ways that UVA radiated from the sun is. 
  • UVA rays are everywhere. UVA rays make up about 95% of UV rays that reach Earth, and their potency is the same regardless of the season. 

UVB RAYS: 

  • UVB rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin, damaging them to the point of sunburn and blisters. 
  • UVB relates to the SPF factor on your skin protection. The factor number tells you how long you can stay exposed to the radiation before the skin starts to redden in comparison to if you were exposed without the use of a sunscreen. 
  • The intensity of the UVB rays can fluctuate, although they can still damage your skin all year round, and equally when they meet your skin from a reflective surface such as ice or snow! 

This neatly brings us to the final section of this blog. The benefits of using an SPF all year round. 

SPF will aid protection from harmful rays that cause some types of skin cancer.
SPF will help keep the skin hydrated.
SPF will help protect your skin from damage such as burning or blistering.
SPF will help keep your skin more youthful and protect you against signs of premature ageing. 

So I think the message is clear; yes, you do need to use SPF in the winter… and the spring.. And the summer… and of course, the autumn, too! 

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